Measles cases increasing due to incomplete immunizations in children under 18

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There have been six cases of measles so far in Saskatchewan in 2011, all in Regina, prompting the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and its health regions to issue press releases advising caregivers of children under 18 years to ensure their immunizations are updated if they have not yet received two doses of the MR or MMR vaccine containing measles protection.

Two of the Regina cases were in unimmunized children under the age of five years, two were in unimmunized young adults, and two were in middle-aged adults who may have received one dose of measles vaccine in childhood.

Measles cases are usually very rare in Canada, but they do occur. Currently there is a measles outbreak in Quebec, while United States, Europe and Australia are also seeing an increase in measles cases.

"With many people traveling across the globe it is easy for exposure and spread to occur. Ensuring that you are up to date with your measles immunizations will aide in this effort to minimize the risk of measles to our population,” noted Dr. David Torr, Consulting Medical Health Officer of the Cypress Health Region.

Most adults should be immune after having received the vaccine or having had the disease. Persons born in 1970 or before are considered to have naturally acquired immunity.

"All children in Saskatchewan 18 years and under should have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine - MR (Measles, Rubella) or MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella),” noted Saskatchewan Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

Measles is a highly contagious infection that can cause serious illness. Symptoms include fever (38.3 C or greater); cough; spots in the mouth appearing 1-2 days before the rash; a red blotchy rash appearing on days 3-5 and usually lasting for 4-7 days; runny nose; and redness of the eyes and inner eyelids and/or light sensitivity. They usually occur within 8 to 12 days after exposure but this time frame can range from 7 to 21 days post exposure. Measles is highly contagious from about 1-2 days before the appearance of the rash until about 4 days after.

Parents who have children under 18 years that have not received two measles immunizations, or who may be unsure about their children’s immunization history regarding this important vaccine, are urged to contact the Cypress Health Region’s public health department by calling (306) 778-5280.


Organizations: Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Cypress Health Region

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Regina, Canada Quebec United States Europe Australia

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